Many in the congregation want answers on their purpose in life and seek healing through the spiritual words of Catholicism. Most young and old parishioners put their faith in priests, bishops, and deacons in charge of providing guidance. Unfortunately, some clergy members use the authority given by the Catholic Church to harm others through sexual abuse and molestation.
The decades of child sex abuse cases involving priests have created a crisis that continuously rattles the foundation of the Catholic Church. Faithful parishioners with children who have been sexually assaulted want the sexual predators removed from active ministry and prosecuted. Only recently have financial compensation funds and papal commissions been created to protect minors from clergy abusers in California.
Santa Rosa Diocese Child Sex Abuse Attorneys
It is reprehensible that only a small fraction of clergy sexual predators with credible allegations of sexual abuse are ever held legally accountable. Often, Church officials look the other way, never turning evidence over to local law enforcement and prosecutors to investigate the accusations.
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC has represented many victims of clerical sexual abuse harmed by clergy molesters to ensure justice. If you are a sexual abuse survivor, we are here to listen to your horrific story in a confidential setting. Our law firm can discuss your legal options on how best to proceed in your case.
A Code of Silence
In 2014, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child looked to the Pope and the Vatican to remove predatory priests from active ministry. In a news release, the committee condemned the Church’s lack of transparency when hiding the list of names of child sex abusers among their midst. The UN recognized a Code of Silence that Church officials had imposed on clergy members instead of referring cases of sexual assault to law enforcement.
The United Nations Committee discussed how the leaders of the Catholic Church were spiritually responsible for children under their care. The trust that parishioners had placed in their spiritual guides led to a double betrayal by the abuse of priests and the Catholic Church.
List of Santa Rosa Diocese Clergy with Credible Allegations of Sex Abuse
After his ordination at the Santa Rosa Diocese, Father Anthony Bolger was incardinated (reassigned from one diocese to another) to Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1984. Accusations arose that Reverend Bolger had sexually assaulted an underage male between 1978 and 1981 while at the Kailua, Hawaii Saint Anthony’s Parish. At that time, Bolger served as a school teacher. In May 2013, the same victim filed a civil lawsuit against Bishop Ferrario, claiming that the Bishop had sexually assaulted him while he was a priest in the same parish. Bolger relocated to Tijuana, Mexico. The 2019 Diocese of Santa Rosa’s list reveals notes that Bolger had been accused of sexual molestation in 1994, abusing an underage child between 1972 and 1973. The document explains that that church officials notified the Honolulu Diocese when the accusations arose.
Current Status: Died 2015
Brenkle, John J.
A published article in 2008 revealed that Church officials placed Father John J. Brenkle on leave three years earlier after a male victim alleged that the priest had sexually assaulted him in 1995 when he was in seventh grade. The Reverend denied the allegation. Even so, the Diocese of Santa Rosa investigated the priest, exonerated him of the charges, and allowed him to returned to ministry. The Father says he received a letter from the alleged victim, indicating that “nothing happened.” The Reverend currently serves as the Diocese’s Lay Review Board Chairman. However, SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) states that Brenkle should be removed from the board because he cannot be impartial.
Current Status: Cleared of wrongdoing, returned to ministry
Crews, John S.
Starting in 1984, Father John S. Crews served as the Sebastopol, CA Executive Director of Hanna Boys Center. In 2013, Reverend John Crews resigned from his position after facing allegations of an inappropriate relationship with an underage male child that occurred between 1971 and 1975. Before being assigned to work at the Hanna Boys Center, church officials assigned the priest to the Sebastopol Saint Sebastian’s Parish and Cotati St. Joseph’s Parish. The alleged victim has since died. However, his widow reported the allegations of sexually inappropriate behavior by Father John Crews to the local sheriff’s office before notifying the Diocese of Santa Rosa. Church records indicate that the priest had not been assigned to ministry just before retiring in 2013. In 2017, two adult males made a public statement accusing the Reverend of sexually molesting them between 1999 and 2001 (for one victim) and between 1984 and 1985 (for the other victim). As of 2019, it is believed that Crews resides in North Carolina.
Current Status: Retired 2013
Ireland-native Father Patrick Gleeson was ordained in the Sacramento Diocese and incarnated (placed into service) into the Diocese of Santa Rosa in 1962 after it was initially created. In November 2002, an alleged male victim filed a civil lawsuit against the Diocese of Santa Rosa, alleging that Reverend Gleeson had sexually assaulted him when he was a minor between 1968 and 1972. At the time of the alleged abuse of incidents, the priest was serving as the Calistoga Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish pastor. Church officials said they were not previously aware of any of Gleeson’s accusations. In July 2005, the Church settled two of Reverend Gleeson’s civil lawsuits as a part of the Diocese’s $7.3 million deal that involved eight plaintiffs. In December 2019, five men filed a civil lawsuit using the California Child Victims Act, claiming that Father Gleeson sexually assaulted them when they were altar boys.
Current Status: Died 1991
In 2019, the Diocese of Santa Rosa released a list of named accusers of sexual misconduct, including Father Patrick Hannon. Documents indicate that the priest was accused of sexual abuse of an innocent victim in 2000 that occurred in 1981. During the time of the alleged abuse, the Reverend was working at the Catholic Diocese of Santa Rosa between 1980 and 1981.
Current Status: Died 1993
Kelly, Michael Emmet
In 2019, the Diocese of Santa Rosa publicly exposed Father Michael Emmet Kelly’s credible evidence of accusations that the priest sexually assaulted an innocent victim. The church suspended Reverend Michael Emmett Kelly in October 1999 after accusations arose of incidents involving sexual abuse that allegedly occurred between 1971 and 1999.
Current Status: Laicized (defrocked): 2004
Kimball, Donald Wren
In 1990 Church officials placed Father Donald Wren Kimball on leave after accusations arose that the preset sexually assaulted girls and boys. The victims filed a civil lawsuit that was settled by the Diocese of Santa Rosa in 2000 for $1.6 million. Other lawsuits filed by other victims were also settled. In June 2002, Reverend Campbell was convicted of child molestation and received a seven-year prison sentence for abusing a girl in 1981 when she was thirteen years old. At trial, the Reverend was found innocent of raping another underage female. However, a Supreme Court ruling overturned the existing law that was used to criminally convict the priest. In 2005 and 2006, the Santa Rosa Diocese settled several cases involving Kimball’s inappropriate sexual activity. The 2019 Diocese’s list noted there were accusations made in 1990 that the Reverend had sexually assaulted innocent victims during the 1980s. In December 2019, lawsuits were filed under the newly enacted California Child Victims Act. Two victims came forward, who stated that Father Kimball had sexually assaulted them when they were minors ages sixteen and seventeen years old.
Current Status: Died 2006
McCabe, Patrick Joseph
Before arriving in California 1983, Irish-native Father Patrick Joseph McCabe was assigned to the Diocese of Dublin. Documents reveal that the Catholic Church was aware that he had sexually assaulted individuals at the Dublin Diocese. In 1983, Reverend Patrick McCabe was incardinated (transferred to another diocese) to the Catholic Diocese of Santa Rosa and was assigned to parishes in Stockton, Sacramento, and Santa Rosa. Church officials removed McCabe from ministry in 1987 after several parents complained that the Reverend had children sit on his lap during confession. In 1988, the Rome Catholic Church laicized (defrocked) the priest. In 2003, Interpol (the Paris-based intergovernmental organization that coordinates worldwide investigations) found Father Patrick McCabe working in Alameda, California. In August 2010, law enforcement arrested Reverend McCabe on charges that he sexually assaulted six underage males in Ireland between 1973 and 1981. In September 2010, four civil lawsuits were filed in America, listing McCabe and the Catholic Church as defendants. In March 2012, three of the victims agreed to a negotiated settlement for $550,000. In 2011, the US Government deported McCabe to Ireland, where he received an eighteen-month jail sentence two years later. At the time of his sentencing, he was released from jail due to time already served. McCabe’s name appeared in the Murphy Report that listed twenty-one complaints. The January 2019 Diocese of Santa Rosa list notes that Father McCabe sexually assaulted individuals while he was assigned at the Diocese between 1983 and 1986 before his removal.
Current Status: Sentenced to jail
Meenan, John A.
In 2019, the Diocese of Santa Rosa publicly exposed Father John A. Meenan’s credible accusation of sexually assaulting innocent victims. Church documents reveal that Reverend Meenan was accused of inappropriate sexual conduct in the 1960s. Church officials placed the priest on leave in 1971.
Current Status: Died 2009
Neville, Francis E.
In 2019, the Diocese of Santa Rosa publicly exposed Father Francis E. Neville’s credible accusation of sexually assaulting an innocent victim. After Reverend Neville’s ordination at the Sri Lanka Diocese of Colombo, he was assigned to ministry work in the Santa Rosa Diocese between 1983 and 1984. In 1993, the face accusations of sexual assault occurring in 1983.
Current Status: Accused of inappropriate sexual conduct
In September 1996, five former altar boys stepped forward to accuse Father Vincent O’Neill of sexually assaulting them during the 1970s when the victims were thirteen years old. Two months after the allegations became public, Reverend O’Neill resigned. Church officials suspended O’Neill from active ministry while the investigation was pending. In January 1997, the Catholic Diocese of Santa Rosa settled the suit with the five men for an undisclosed sum. In March 1997, reports became public that the priest had a brain tumor with only weeks to live. Father Vincent O’Neill’s name appeared on the 2019 Santa Rosa Diocese list.
Current Status: Died 1998
In 1998, Father Francisco Xavier Ochoa began working for the Diocese of Santa Rosa after the Jesuit Order ordained him in Mexico. In July 1991, Reverend Ochoa was incardinated (assigned to a diocese) to Santa Rosa. In April 2006, the priest admitted he had recently sexually abused a boy. Church officials placed the Reverend on leave the following month. Ochoa admitted his past sexual misconduct to the Diocese Bishop. At that time, other accusers stepped forward, making allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct. Before the Church reported the allegations to local law enforcement, Father Ochoa fled to Mexico. In October 2006, two civil lawsuits were filed. In September 2007, the Bishop and Diocese of Santa Rosa settled the case for more than $5 million, resolving claims involving ten plaintiffs. In July 2008, federal authorities issued an arrest warrant for Father Ochoa on charges that he had forcibly sodomized an innocent victim and forced oral copulation. The Reverend never returned to America to face the charges. The Vatican laicized (defrocked) Ochoa in June 2009. The Reverend died in Mexico later that year. In December 2019, another victim filed a lawsuit under the California Child victims act, naming the Catholic Church and Ochoa as defendants.
Current Status: Died 2009
Before Father Ted Oswald entered the seminary for the priesthood, he was assigned to the Diocese of Tucson between 1976 and 1977 as a religious brother. In June 2008, he took a leave of absence after his name appeared in a January 2008 civil lawsuit alleging he had sexually molested an underage boy between 1988 and 1995. Reverend Oswald denied the allegations. However, Church officials removed Oswald permanently from the ministry. In March 2009, the Catholic Diocese of Santa Rosa settled with two plaintiffs for $1.3 million to resolve cases involving Father Oswald. Before joining the priesthood, the Reverend worked as a civilian and military (Vietnam) policeman. In 1999 and 2000, Oswald testified that he had told his superiors that R. Trupia had sexually assaulted someone in 1976. In July 2014, the Santa Rosa Diocese settled a lawsuit involving Oswald that was filed in August 2013.
Current Status: Died 2010
In 2019, the Diocese of Santa Rosa publicly exposed Father Xavier Pallathuparambil’s credible accusation of sexual misconduct. Reverend Pallathuparambil was ordained into the priesthood at the Vijayapuram Diocese in India. Beginning in February 1984, Pallathuparambil was assigned to the Catholic Diocese of Santa Rosa until church officials dismissed the priest two months later in April.
Current Status: Died 2004
In 2007, an adult male spoke with the Catholic Diocese of Santa Rosa, alleging that Father Thomas Parker had sexually assaulted him when he was a child in 1988 and 1989. The alleged incident involving Parker happened at the Napa, CA Apollinaris Parish. In late 2008, Church officials agreed to a negotiated settlement for $215,000 to resolve the case with the plaintiff. That same year, the Catholic Church removed Thomas Parker from the priesthood permanently.
Current Status: Laicized/Defrocked 2005
Rogers, John K.
Former Humboldt State University campus minister Father John K. Rogers and noted religious scholar died by his own hands in November 1995 in Belgium. Reverend Rogers committed suicide after he was ordered to return to the United States to face charges of sexually molesting an underage teenage boy in 1976. Rogers’ suicide note claimed he was innocent but said he could not handle the embarrassment. The alleged victim stated he had reported the abuse in 1989 and again in 1995. The accuser passed away from drug abuse six years after Rogers committed suicide.
Current Status: Died by suicide 1995
Salas, Jorge Hume
In January 1999, Church officials placed Father Jorge Hume Salas on leave after four adult men reported Salas had sexually molested them between 1996 and 1998. However, the local District Attorney’s Office did not prosecute the crimes due to the expiration of the statute of limitations. In 1998, Reverend Salas filed a civil lawsuit alleging he was the victim of sexual abuse and harassment by the Catholic Diocese of Santa Rosa Bishop Ziemann. In April 2000, the Church settled a lawsuit with Salas for $535,000 following the Bishop’s admission that he had had a relationship with the priest. Although the Bishop resigned, Salas remained in the priesthood but likely returned to his homeland in Costa Rica. Not all believe that Salas completed seminary training.
Current Status: Accused of sexual misconduct
Before his assignment at the Fargo Diocese in North Dakota, Father Wilfred L. Sheehy was ordained in Wisconsin for the Pallotine Fathers. He remained in North Dakota until 1966 before relocating to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to teach. In 1966, Reverend Sheehy was incardinated (assigned to a diocese) to the catholic diocese of Santa Rosa. Sheehy faced accusations that he sexually molested a minor between 1972 and 1977.
Current Status: Died 2014
In 2019, the Diocese of Santa Rosa publicly exposed Father Alfredo Sobalvarro’s credible accusation of sexually assaulting an innocent victim. After Reverend Sobalvarro’s ordination into the Roman Catholic Church for the Archdiocese of Washington DC, he was incardinated (assigned to a diocese) to the Diocese of Santa Rosa where he worked between 1972 and 1976. The January 2019 Santa Rosa Diocese’s list identified Reverend Sobalvarro as a sexual assaulter. Additional notes indicate that the priest has not worked in active ministry since 2003.
Current Status: Accused of sexual assault
In 1994, two civil lawsuits revealed allegations that Father Gary Timmons sexually assaulted eight underage males. Reverend Timmons had found at the Leggett, CA Camp St Michael. In October 1995, law enforcement arrested Timmons, charging him with seventeen counts of sexually assaulting two victims. Law enforcement knew that there were eighteen other victims, but all charges were dropped due to the expiration of the statute of limitations. In 1970, Father Timmons admitted to inappropriate sexual behavior in an entry in his diary, declaring that he was a child molester. In September 1996, the court sentenced Father Timmons to two 8-year prison sentences to be served concurrently. In 2000, the California Corrections Department released Reverend Timmons from incarceration. The Church laicized (defrocked) the priest in May 2001 and removed him from ministry. Father Timmons’ name appears on the California Sex Offender Registry. In 2003 and 2007, other victims stepped forward and filed civil lawsuits. Timmons’ name appears on the January 2019 Catholic Diocese of Santa Rosa list, where he had worked between 1967 in 1994. Victims filed civil lawsuits against Camp Saint Michael and the Santa Rosa Diocese under the California Child Victims Act. As of 2019, Timmons was residing in Sacramento, California.
Current Status: Convicted and sentenced for child molestation
In 2019, the Diocese of Santa Rosa publicly exposed Father James Walsh’s credible accusation of sexual assault. Reverend Walsh was incardinated (assigned to a diocese) into the Diocese of Santa Rosa in 1962 when the diocese was first established. Church records show that he faced allegations of sexual misconduct in 2005 involving incidents that occurred in 1965.
Current Status: Died 1993
Ward, Bernard (Bernie)
In 1979 or 1980, Father Bernard (Bernie) Ward left the priesthood to get married and have children. Reverend Bernie Ward was the host of a radio talk show. In December 2007, the federal court indicted Ward on charges of Internet child pornography. Father Ward’s lawyer claimed that the priest had been researching child pornography for a book he had been working on three or four years before. However, reports indicated that he had emailed images of child porn to a woman who turned the evidence over to local law enforcement and the Federal Bureau of investigation immediately. After initially pleading not guilty on the charges, in May 2008, he pled guilty to a single count. An article published in May 2008 revealed that Reverend Bernie Ward remained an active priest. In August of that year, the courts sentenced him to more than seven years in prison. In December 2014, California Corrections Department released Reverend Ward from incarceration. Bernard Ward’s name appears on the January 2019 Diocese of Santa Rosa list.
Current Status: Convicted and served a prison sentence
In January 2010, Church officials from the Diocese of Santa Rosa placed Father Ron Wiecek on leave after allegations were made public that he sexually assaulted an innocent victim. The Church also removed the Reverend’s privileges after he was accused of overzealously spanking a male child in the 1970s. At the time of the spanking assault, Reverend Wiecek was assigned to the Diocese of Santa Rosa. Church documents reveal that Wiecek tried to “pick up” a gay man three decades before. In the twenty years before his assignment at the Santa Rosa Diocese, he had worked for the Diocese of Monterey. After the allegations arose, the Reverend’s Order recalled the priest to return to Ohio immediately. Wiecek’s name appears on the January 2019 Diocese of Santa Rosa list.
Current Status: Accused of sexual misconduct
More Lawsuits Filed
In December 2019, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Santa Rosa faced a slew of newly filed lawsuit cases involving their concealment of evil actions of priests. Some of these cases dated back to the 1960s, mostly involving priests that are now deceased.
The lawsuits were filed last year on behalf of plaintiffs by attorneys that specialize in alleged abuse cases. The initial five civil suits are likely just the beginning of hundreds or thousands of cases that will be filed in the months and years to come. In 2019, California legislators passed Assembly Bill 218, signed by Governor Newsom that extends the statute of limitations law.
The change of the new state law now lengthens a time limit that sexual abuse survivors can file a compensation claim, even if their previous cases were dismissed. The lawsuits identify the defendants as the Catholic Church, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Santa Rosa, and predatory priests, who are well-known to the diocesan congregation. The new law also created a “three-year open-window” for victims of any age to file a civil lawsuit to pursue justice for their injuries, even if the allegations went back years ago.
The attorneys built a solid case on the Church’s flawed system of managing priests and the reckless selections of Santa Rosa Catholic Bishops. The efforts of Church officials were directed at protecting their reputation at the cost of the young victims’ safety.
Years of Intentional Secrecy
The Roman Catholic Church has a long record of intentional secrecy that hides priestly misconduct evidence from the public, law enforcement, and parishioners. Instead of revealing confidential files through an act of transparency, church leaders sent the accused religious leaders to “treatment centers” for help. In many cases, the Vatican, Pope, or Bishop transferred the predator priest to other churches quietly and never informed either congregation of what occurred.
Less than three decades ago, the Church’s façade of secrecy hiding the list of priests involved in sexual molestation saw its initial cracks that have since opened wide, exposing a global cover-up. Many clergy abuse survivors tore down the walls because they could no longer hold their painful secrets inside. These victims disclosed horrific stories involving abuse by their spiritual leaders in charge of providing guidance.
The spread of sexual assault by clergy in the Diocese of Santa Rosa stretched across parishes from the Oregon border to Petaluma, CA. Many victims were sexually molested in parish rectories, and at churches, sporting events, parochial schools, and other church-related venues, especially Camp St. Michael.
Only recently has Santa Rosa Diocese Bishop Robert F. Vasa released a comprehensive list of religious leaders who have been credibly accused of sexual assault. Many of the forty-two religious leaders on Bishop Ziemann and Bishop Vasa’s Diocese’s list had ministered to parishioners in the Diocese of Santa Rosa as far back as the late 1950s. Over the last few decades, the Diocese has settled civil lawsuits and claims with alleged victims paying out over $33 million to resolve clergy sexual abuse cases.
Clergy leaders facing allegations of child sexual abuse in the Diocese of Santa Rosa include Reverend Austin Peter Keegan, Father Don Kimball, and Reverend Gary Timmons. They were all defrocked (laicized). The Diocesan Review Board determined that Keegan’s allegations of sexually abusing dozens of victims were credible.
Hiring a Santa Rosa Diocese Clergy Abuse Attorney
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC protect innocent victims who were sexually assaulted by Catholic cardinals, bishops, pastors, priest, part-time and permanent deacons, religious brothers, and sisters. Our law firm ensures that each of our lawsuit plaintiffs receives justice. With changes in California statute of limitations laws, we can now assist every victim of clergy sex abuse, ensuring they receive compensation to heal.
If you are a sexual abuse survivor, let us stand with you and protect your rights through your healing process. We will discuss your case in a confidential setting and provide legal counsel on the best pathways to move your case forward in a claim or civil suit. Our legal team has recovered more than $250 million in damages on behalf of our clients, and we can help you too.
We accept all sexual assault cases where the clergy abuser is still in “active ministry,” on a leave of absence, is in retirement, removed from the priesthood, is named in other civil litigation, or has since died.